HR and Benefits Consulting
NELGPC partners with employers to develop workplace policies which are compliant with the complex and growing myriad of state and federal laws regulating the workplace as well as best practices. Whether conducting a workplace compliance or wage audit, developing and reviewing employee handbooks, writing employment contracts and consulting agreements for independent contractors, drafting commission policies, bonus plans, restrictive covenants and incentive compensation programs, developing job descriptions, or designing compliant wellness and safety programs, NELGPC brings, not only knowledge of the employment and benefits laws, but also, as a family owned business, our HR professionals and attorneys appreciate the perspective of business owners in managing a profitable business. When illness and accidents affect the workplace, our team helps employers weave together obligations under the ADA, FMLA, workers compensation, as well as state leave laws, and assists employers in evaluating employees’ return to work with or without reasonable accommodation and work hardening programs. When workforce restructuring and reductions in force are necessary, NELGPC works with employers to develop business strategies and severance programs that achieve business objectives while minimizing risks of litigation. We also assist government contractors in assuring compliance with their affirmative action obligations, as well as with government ethics programs, drug free workplace programs, reporting obligations and designing drug testing programs. NELGPC also provides supervisor and workforce training programs to assure that management understands their front line and first responder obligations for compliance with state and federal labor and employment laws, as well as HIPAA and data privacy obligations.
NELGPC approaches ERISA from the perspective of the employer to assist it, as plan sponsor, in understanding and complying with the complex fiduciary, reporting and tax obligations imposed upon employers who sponsor health, welfare and pension plans. We assist employers in monitoring service providers, in negotiating administrative services agreements, and in reviewing plan design, operation and governance to mitigate risks of DOL and IRS audits and participant suits for breach of fiduciary duties. When complex errors are discovered in plan administration, we assist employers through the DOL and IRS correction programs to avoid plan disqualification and to mitigate costly fines and excise taxes imposed when employer mistakes are discovered under audit. We also represent employers during DOL and IRS audits of plans, and in complex plan terminations involving underfunded defined benefit plans. Due to our litigation competencies, our attorneys defend employers in fiduciary litigation, and have been appointed to serve as special counsel in bankruptcy matters seeking to terminate defined benefit plans in order for the employer to emerge from bankruptcy. In addition, the firm advises employers regarding compliance obligations under the Affordable Care Act, and in designing 409A compliant deferred compensation plans for key employees.
NELGPC assists employers in lawfully hiring the most qualified employees, including lawfully hiring foreign workers to meet staffing obligations. We assist business owners emigrating to the United States to establish a new business under treaty trader provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act as well as international businesses expanding operations to the US under programs allowing international transfer for key employees. We also assist employers in lawfully hiring temporary professionals to meet staffing needs, as well as in navigating the recruitment and immigration process for workers filling positions for which US workers are unavailable, particularly in the health care and the hi-tech industries. For many years, Olympic athletes have turned to NELGPC when they “retire” from competition for assistance in entering the United States to continue their career as a coach of elite athletes. When the need arises for US employers to “outsource” talent, NELGPC assists employers through its membership in the ABA International Labor and Employment Sub-Committee to assure compliance with non-US immigration and labor laws coupled with an understanding of the Tax Treaties before sending ex-pats out of the United States to work.
Due to the union roots of the founders of NELGPC, we understand the labor movement, and can assist employers in minimizing the need for a unionized workforce. Should a union campaign spark, our attorneys have successfully managed campaigns and elections, as well as defended unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board. For unionized workforces, we have sat at the table late into the night negotiating collective bargaining agreements while reserving employers’ management rights, and stepped through grievance arbitrations as well as managed striking workforces. When employees no longer perceive the need for outside representation and payment of dues, we have represented employers in the de-certification election process. Our benefits experience also allows us to counsel unionized businesses confronting fund withdrawal liability, when selling their business or downsizing, as well as negotiating with unions when forced to enter bankruptcy proceedings.
Workplace Investigations and Audits
Intuitive, thorough, and sensitive investigation of employee allegations of discrimination and harassment in the workforce requires emotional intelligence as well as the legal skills to conduct a proper investigation which will allow an employer to correct discrimination, if it exists, in an effort to avoid costly litigation or to effectively defend such litigation by taking prompt remedial action. Our attorneys’ broad labor and employment experience, with an understanding of the gamut of laws regulating the workplace as well as best practices, coupled with an understanding of organizational psychology allows our Firm to represent employers during internal investigations, as well as to assist employers early in the investigative process to effectively manage audits and inspections by state or federal agencies. Whether discrimination, harassment, wage-hour, OSHA, the NLRB, ICE, Health and Human Services HIPAA Audit or the DOL or IRS in a benefits plan audit, we effectively assist employers in preparing for, conducting and/or managing the audit or investigation in an effort to achieve the best outcome and mitigate costly litigation, fines, and adverse publicity.
Although our goal is to avoid litigation for our clients, if the fight starts, we are prepared to aggressively defend employers in administrative proceedings as well as in state and federal courts. However, we approach litigation from a business perspective, managing the litigation from the start with a litigation management plan as well as effectively engaging in discovery to enhance the likelihood of obtaining a finding or judgment in the employer’s favor without the necessity of going to trial. To serve our clients, we are admitted to practice in the state and federal courts of Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire, as well as the United States Supreme Court.